Hagan’s wife to seek his seat

By David Skolnick



State Rep. Robert F. Hagan can’t run next year for his Ohio House seat, but he’s trying to keep it in the family.

Hagan, of Youngstown, D-58th, filed a designation of treasurer Tuesday with the Mahoning County Board of Elections on behalf of his wife, Michele Lepore-Hagan.

Lepore-Hagan began circulating nominating petitions Tuesday, and said she plans to get the needed signatures to file with the board on Nov. 7, two days after the upcoming general election.

Her husband was the first person to sign her nominating petitions.

“I’ve thought about this for a long time,” she said. “I want to help people and represent our interests at the state level. I’ve been in the world of politics for so many years. I know it’s difficult. I know how challenging it will be. I’ve always had an interest in serving. It’s a noble profession.”

Hagan told The Vindicator in mid-August that his wife, the director of Youngstown State University’s Performing Arts Series, was “seriously considering” a bid to replace him, and that he would back her candidacy.

As for Hagan, he said he’s running in 2016 for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Rob Portman.

Also, Rachel Hanni, an outgoing Youngstown school board member, said Tuesday she’s “strongly considering” a run for the open House seat next year. She said she will have a decision in the next month or two.

“There’s not a strong sense of bipartisanship in our country,” said Hanni, a teacher at St. Stephen School in Niles. “But I’m capable of seeing things from different perspectives.”

Her father, Don L. Hanni III, is a former Youngstown school board member who lost the 2010 Democratic primary to Hagan for the Ohio House seat. Her grandfather is the late Don L. Hanni Jr., a former county Democratic Party chairman.

Youngstown Councilwoman Janet Tarpley, D-6th, and Michael E. O’Hara of Youngstown, who unsuccessfully ran in 2004 for the Ohio House, have previously announced plans to run.

Youngstown Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, and Cynthia McWilson of Youngstown, who lost the city’s 5th Ward council race in 2003, are also considering seeking the elected position.

The 58th is a strong Democratic district. Those running and considering running all plan to do so in the Democratic primary in May 2014. The filing deadline for the primary is Feb. 5.

Hagan ran unopposed last year and is finishing his fourth-consecutive term in the Ohio House. Because of the state’s term-limits law Hagan cannot run next year for another two-year term.

Last year’s redistricting made a small but key change to the makeup of this House district.

The district still includes all of Youngstown, Struthers, Campbell, Lowellville and Coitsville. The district used to have nine of Austintown’s 40 precincts. Because of the district’s shrinking population, it now has 36 Austintown precincts.

To date, no one from outside Youngstown has declared their candidacy for the seat.

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